The Casey Jones Chapter of the Train Collectors Association is now on Facebook. You can link to it from the TCA page here on MMR, or find it directly on Facebook at @caseyjoneschaptertca. It brings the chapter closer to the enormous Facebook community - which proved successful leading up to their last train show - and will help attract people from Facebook to this Web site. Please "like" the page, and also "follow" it if you want periodic updates.
There is also a new "members-only" Facebook group for Casey Jones or any other active TCA member. It is aptly named "Casey Jones Chapter, Train Collectors Association Members Group." You can find it from the Casey Jones Facebook page. All TCA members are encouraged to join and take part in the discussion about anything train-related.
If you are a Game of Thrones fan like I am, you know that in the series opener and threaded throughout much of the show's run is this underlying theme: “Winter is Coming.” It seems fitting to recall these words at this time of the year. December is a transition month for us in Memphis, as daytime temperatures in the 50s, 60s and even 70s give way to the 40s and 30s. Today I can proclaim without a doubt that Winter is Near! There is no snow yet – fortunately or unfortunately we do not get much of that—but our cool and dry sunny days have been replaced with much colder cloudy and wet days. Train Season is Coming.
My plan for this train season is to get back to work on my personal layout. It has been nearly a year since I have done anything more than move around the clutter that has accumulated on top. Indeed, my layout is in an unfortunate state, and the room in which it sits is not much better off. I need to put these long, dark winter nights to good use and get some things done.
It is time to finish inventorying my collection and storing the boxes away - in more boxes. It is time to clean the clutter and make my layout into a workspace in which I want to spend time, not one I try to avoid. It is time to stop thinking so much about what to do next on my layout and just do it. What is the old saying? "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?" It is time to restart my journey with that single step and finish what I started.
The entrance to my railroad shows some of the clutter that needs to be cleared this winter. I can barely make it back to the layout area.
What is your plan for this train season? Do you plan to show off a holiday-themed layout? Will you work on your regular layout, if you have one? What special projects will your train club undertake this winter? What next step will you take now that train season is upon us? Let us know by commenting on this post.
While there are a lot of people in and around Memphis who like trains, area train shows do not tend to play host to the same crowd sizes enjoyed by shows in other parts of the country. A crowd of fifty to seventy-five people is typical. Things changed a bit this December. Helped by an enhanced give-away prize for kids and a heavy push through both social media and traditional channels, this year's TCA Casey Jones Chapter-sponsored holiday train show saw a lot more visitors than usual - way more, actually. We estimate final attendance, including accompanying guests, at between 175 and 200. That is a big show for this area. Many of these visitors were both "first-timers" and families with kids, just the kind of people needed to help any hobby continue to grow and prosper. If it proved one thing it is that despite all the activities, entertainment options, and technologies vying for everyone's time, people around here still like toy trains.
The main attraction for families (or at least the kids in those families!) was likely the prospect of winning this John Deere-themed LionChief starter set from Lionel; more on this later.
Chapter President Bill Autry (in green on the far left) wraps up a short business meeting for local members. The clock on the back wall says it is time to open the doors.
Members and other early shoppers look over the merchandise and hard-to-find parts offered by several TCA vendors before the show really starts to crank up. The vendors travel in from all over the region and really go to a lot of effort to participate in our shows. We would not be able to have a show without their support.
Meanwhile, over in the Kids Club area we find grandpa and grandson, and father and son. This scene is the epitome of quality family time on a Saturday morning. Kids Club host Liz Kelly is in the background making sure there are plenty of treats and activities for the kids.
The looks on their faces suggest a "win-win" outcome was achieved.
Of course, a train show is nothing without the trains. Under the Christmas tree we find passengers rushing to get home behind a set of postwar Erie Alcos, while Santa Fe 212 speeds through a town on the Ron Williams Memorial Layout with a short merchandise train in tow.
And finally...the highlight of the show: a random drawing was held for a John Deere LionChief train set from Lionel (compliments of the Casey Jones Chapter and Midsouth Hobbies). Tickets were given to kids 12 and under who attended the show. Forty-three kids took part in the drawing.
Germantown resident Sam L poses with Chapter Treasurer Richard Gonzales after stopping by to collect the prize for his very lucky grandson, 6-year-old Joshua.